Democrats want to collect data on violent LGBTI deaths with new bill

Muhlaysia Booker is one of several transgender women of color who have been murdered in 2019 | Photo: Facebook Two years following the Pulse shooting, Democrats in Congress introduced a new bill aimed at collecting data on violent deaths targeting the LGBTI community .

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced the LGBTQ Essential Data Act on Thursday (13 May) in the House of Representatives.

‘Victims of violence targeted at the LGBTQ community are often invisible to the rest of the world just because of who they are or who they love,’ said Maloney, who’s the first openly gay Congress member from New York.

‘We need quality data showing where, how, why, and to whom this violence is happening to get in action and save LGBTQ lives.’

This is the second time Maloney has introduced this legislation. The first time was in 2016, a month after the Pulse shooting. What the bill does

The LGBTQ Essential Data Act provides $25 million to the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) operates this system.

Currently, the NVDRS faces numerous blockades when collecting data about sexual orientation and gender identity. At the time of the Pulse shooting, Florida was not utilizing NVDRS.

All 50 states now use the NVDRS, but at least 10 face a 2-year backlog. Further, no state has released LGBTI specific date on violent deaths in the country.

Funding will allow the states to fix the backlog issues and implement new policies for LGBTI data collection.

Authorities use data from the NVDRS to inform and implement policy at all levels of government regarding public health crises. This includes homicides as well as suicides.

Maloney introduced the bill with other members of the LGBT Equality Caucus. This will save lives

Numerous LGBTI organizations support the new legislation.

‘In an era where the Trump-Pence administration is attempting to erase LGBTQ people from government websites and data collection, legislation like the LGBTQ Essential Data Act is all the more crucial,’ said David Stacy, the Human Rights Campaign’s Government Affairs Director.

‘LGBTQ people, particularly transgender women of color , are too often victims of violence and even death. The LGBTQ Essential Data Act will give lawmakers and law enforcement the necessary tools to work toward justice and develop comprehensive legislative solutions to fight this epidemic.’

Diego M. Sanchez, at PFLAG National also mentioned the disproportionately high rates of violence faced by trans women of color.

‘Given the ever-increasing number of transgender women of color brutally murdered each year—and the added incidence of harmful risk for LGBTQ+ people—the CDC collecting data and funding the program appropriately will save lives,’ Sanchez said.

Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, highlighted LGBTI youth suicide rates.

‘Unfortunately, The Trevor Project research has found that despite good intention and the optional collection of sexual orientation and gender identity, many states simply don’t know how best to collect this vital information,’ Brinton commented.

‘The LGBTQ Essential Data Act will provide direction and funding to improve the process of capturing sexual orientation and gender identity at the time of death, thereby providing life-saving data to prevent future violent deaths.

‘Who we are must not be erased when we die.’ See also